Chintheche Inn

Chintheche Inn: Our full report

11 plus the cottage
Traveller's rating
Good (84%) From 5 reviews
Fine for all ages
All year

The simple Chintheche Inn, owned and managed by Wilderness Safaris, is situated on the western shore of Lake Malawi, Africa's third largest lake. This northern part of the Malawi lakeshore is very green and lush, with endless sandy beaches and is dotted with fishing villages.

Chintheche Inn is a very simple and relaxed beach lodge. In fact, on our last visit in November 2013, we felt it hadn’t changed much since we last visited it in 2007. On arrival at the lodge you will be taken to the reception area where you will find some comfy chairs where you can relax, with a cold drink, while sorting out your paperwork. Adjacent to the reception area is a small curio shop, which sells a few items of Wilderness branded clothing, some locally made curios and postcards.

Behind the reception area is a fairly dark lounge and bar area, with cane furniture grouped around stone fireplace and a pine bookcase with a few novels and nature books for guests to read. The dining area opens onto a covered verandah laid with individual tables. Weather permitting tables are laid out on the lawns under the trees. In front of the verandah, under a shady tree, is a collection of comfortable wicker sofas and chairs.

There is a good-sized swimming pool, with an adjoining shallow children's pool, situated at the edge of the lawn overlooking the beach. The beach itself is large, white and beautiful – dotted with the occasional rocks and with loungers and thatched umbrellas for guests to use.

Chintheche Inn has ten fairly small brightly furnished en-suite rooms, as well as a suite, all situated in a row overlooking the beach. Each of the rooms is entered from the back and opens out to the front, through French doors, onto a small private patio with deck chairs, and straight onto the beach.

Each room has a small en-suite bathroom, which includes a shower, single basin and flush toilet. Towels, bathrobes, soap and shampoo are provided.

The bedrooms have terracotta-tiled floors and a double or twin bed, with white linen, a blue bedspread and cushions, which add a splash of colour. The bed is surrounded by a mosquito net and has a locally made wood and reed headboard. Beside each bed is a carved wooden table with a lamp on each. There is also a sturdy luggage rack and a desk with tea and coffee making facilities, drinking water and a folder with information about the lodge and the surrounding areas. Each room also has a fan and a wall-mounted safe.

The suite has the same size bedroom and a separate lounge, with a single daybed (which can be converted into a bed for a child to sleep in) and some cane furniture. French doors lead out onto a private terrace.

Chintheche Inn also has a cottage, with two bedrooms and a shared bathroom, and can sleep up to five people. There is also a campsite located far enough away from the lodge so as not to disturb lodge guests.

Activities at Chintheche Inn include swimming, snorkeling from a nearby island, waterskiing, sailing and trips in sturdy wooden fishing boats to points of local interest. It also has the swimming pool for those days when the lake is rough. Horseback riding is available at Kande stables about 10km’s away.

Chintheche is able to offer a good range of activities beyond the watersports and the lake. Knowledgeable local guides are always on hand to lead birding walks in the area and to arrange visits to the local fishing villages. There are also guided or unguided mountain biking trails and fishing trips with the local fishermen. The nearby Bandawe mission also provides a fascinating look into the country's colonial past.

On our recent visit a guide walked with us along the beach, where local fisherman and children fished from the rocks, and into the local village. We chatted to a local gentleman and a group of ladies who were grinding their maize. We picked up a following of small children who followed us everywhere – even trying to come back to the lodge with us!

The Inn is also involved in several local community projects. In the lodge grounds is an indigenous tree nursery, which has been set up to counteract deforestation in the area – a great problem throughout Malawi. Indigenous forests are cut down for firewood, timber and to create more land. The nursery grows and distributes about 40,000 seedlings a year and have set up tree clubs for those areas where it is needed. These seedlings are grown specifically for firewood, fruit and indigenous hardwood.

Our view

Chintheche Inn is an affordable family-friendly lodge located on a lovely beach. It’s ideal for those travellers who wish to relax and do nothing or for those who like to be kept occupied, with lots of water and land activities on offer. The food is fresh and simple and the staff very friendly.


Location: Shore of Lake Malawi, Malawi

Ideal length of stay: We recommend up to 4 nights here for a relaxing beach stay.

Directions: The inn is a four-hour drive from Lilongwe on fairly good roads, following the lakeshore, or you can charter a flight to the Dwangwa (Chintheche) airstrip which is about an hours drive from the lodge.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Wilderness Safaris

Staff: Inn Manager: John Russell and Bronnie Driscoll
Guides: Nation, Hastings and Wesley
Chef: John Russell

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Meals at Chintheche usually follow the format of a continental or English breakfast served in the morning (the times are very flexible), lunch from about 12pm to 2pm, and then a full three course dinner at around 7.30 pm.

The lodge is able to cater for any special requests if some notice is given. Meals are served either in the main dining area our outside under the stars.

The last time we visted Chintheche (November 2013) the food was simple and fresh.

Lunch is an a-la-carte menu offering a choice of soup or a greek salad (however they had run out of lettuce and made it with cabbage instead!), a selection of sandwiches, burgers and locally caught fish (chambo or kampango) and chips. Desert was a fresh fruit salad.

For dinner we had a soup starter, followed by a choice of steak or fish served with fresh vegetables and finished off with a tasty chocolate tart.

For breakfast a buffet is laid out with fresh fruit and fruit salad, fruit juice, freshly made pancakes as well as cereal. A cooked breakfast is also available with a choice of eggs, bacon, sausage and toast. Tea and coffee is also available.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Chintheche. Filtered drinking water, tea and coffee are provided in the rooms.

Further dining info: Room service is not available.

Special interests

Beach holidays: The fairly simple Chintheche Inn has a wooden boat and a speedboat, both of which can be hired for a day or half a day. Trips out to local islands are perfect for snorkeling and swimming as the lake is crystal clear, warm and teeming with brightly-coloured fish.

See more ideas for Beach holidays in Malawi

Birdwatching: The birding walks at Chintheche Inn could form part of a great Malawi birdwatching holiday. With a great variety of habitats, you may see blue spotted dove, palmnut vulture, moustached warbler and pennant-winged nightjar.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Malawi

Riding holidays: Horse riding is available from the Kande Stables, about 10 minutes drive away, where all abilities of riders are welcome. Choose an hour's forest ride or a three-hour bush, beach and swim ride with an optional picnic lunch.

See more ideas for Riding holidays in Malawi

Walking: Chinteche Inn offers guided walks along the lakeshore, where the local fishermen are based. These can be arranged locally, are not strenuous and could feature for those looking for some gentle walking on holiday in Malawi.

See more ideas for Walking in Malawi


Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction at Chintheche Inn.

Special activities & services: The lodge offers special guided walks for children and there is the swimming pool which has a shallow children’s section. Toys and games are available and meals can be tailored to suit varying appetites.

Equipment: Both cots and highchairs are available.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: The mains electricity supply can be erratic in Malawi (especially when there are thunderstorms) so the generator is used as a back-up.

Communications: At the time of our visit (November 2013) there was no wi-fi available but the lodge has a landline and there is also good mobile reception.

TV & radio: None.

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: All rooms have hot and cold running water 24 hours a day.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is available at the local clinic in Chintheche, approximately five minutes drive away as well as further away at Nkhata Bay – about 15 minutes from the lodge.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: There are unarmed nightwatchmen at night to escort you to and from your room, and the inn has two guard dogs which wander the grounds from 11pm to 5am.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside the rooms and in the common areas.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: There is an extra charge for laundry – clothes are collected in the morning and returned during the afternoon or early evening. There is a laundry list available in the rooms. Costs vary from 30 cents for underwear and socks to 80 cents for a pair of jeans or a jumper.

Money: Each room has a wall-mounted safe.

Accepted payment on location: Only Visa credit cards are accepted as well as US dollars, UK sterling, euros and SA rands cash. There is no additional charge for using Visa.